John Keats (1795-1821)
TO A FRIEND
1No! those days are gone away
2And their hours are old and gray,
3And their minutes buried all
4Under the down-trodden pall
5Of the leaves of many years:
6Many times have winter's shears,
7Frozen North, and chilling East,
8Sounded tempests to the feast
9Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
10Since men knew nor rent nor leases.
11 No, the bugle sounds no more,
12And the twanging bow no more;
13Silent is the ivory shrill
14Past the heath and up the hill;
15There is no mid-forest laugh,
16Where lone Echo gives the half
17To some wight, amaz'd to hear
18Jesting, deep in forest drear.
19 On the fairest time of June
20You may go, with sun or moon,
21Or the seven stars to light you,
22Or the polar ray to right you;
23But you never may behold
24Little John, or Robin bold;
25Never one, of all the clan,
26Thrumming on an empty can
27Some old hunting ditty, while
28He doth his green way beguile
29To fair hostess Merriment,
30Down beside the pasture Trent;
31For he left the merry tale
32Messenger for spicy ale.
33 Gone, the merry morris din;
34Gone, the song of Gamelyn;
35Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
36Idling in the "grenè shawe";
37All are gone away and past!
38And if Robin should be cast
39Sudden from his turfed grave,
40And if Marian should have
41Once again her forest days,
42She would weep, and he would craze:
43He would swear, for all his oaks,
44Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes,
45Have rotted on the briny seas;
46She would weep that her wild bees
47Sang not to her--strange! that honey
48Can't be got without hard money!
49 So it is: yet let us sing,
50Honour to the old bow-string!
51Honour to the bugle-horn!
52Honour to the woods unshorn!
53Honour to the Lincoln green!
54Honour to the archer keen!
55Honour to tight little John,
56And the horse he rode upon!
57Honour to bold Robin Hood,
58Sleeping in the underwood!
59Honour to maid Marian,
60And to all the Sherwood-clan!
61Though their days have hurried by
62Let us two a burden try.
1] The friend was J. H. Reynolds to whom the poem was sent in a letter of February 3, 1818, in reply to a poem on the same subject.
34] Gamelyn. Gamelyn is the hero in a fourteenth-century outlaw tale, at one time erroneously ascribed to Chaucer by some scholars, because it was found in certain MSS. of the Canterbury Tales.
36] "grenè shawe." Greenwood; cf. Chaucer, Friar's Tale, 88: "wher rydestou under this grene shawe?"
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: John Keats, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1970. PR 4830 E20AB Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.623.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28*2:2002/6/7
Composition date note: February 3, 1818
Other poems by John Keats